Partner Feature: Los Angeles School Police Department

Posted: August 14, 2017

The goal of the LASPD to “address the quality of life issues that impact student safety and the ability of the students and staff to enjoy a safe learning environment free from the fear of crime” aligns with BTSLA’s mission to cultivate youth development in underserved communities. To that end, LASPD has partnered with BTSLA to pave the way for the operation of wrestling programs in communities such as San Fernando, San Pedro, Bell, Florence and the Belmont DTLA Academy. LASPD helps with finding new spaces across LAUSD campuses for wrestling programs, and officers also serve as mentors for the student wrestlers throughout the year.
For the Belmont DTLA Academy, LASPD helps put on workshops, coach trainings, and the summer program. Yero Washington, BTSLA Executive Director and Head Coach of the Academy, says that these relationships allow LASPD to “give back, connect, and engage with the community, to show that they’re there to help and to support. It’s a really neat way to bring communities together.” Specifically, he praises the efforts of cadets like Neysa Alvarado, who is one of “the most committed, dedicated, and mature young people that we have in the program. She has led by example, and a lot of that came from the law enforcement cadet program. It’s helped others to see how they should conduct themselves in a wrestling practice environment.”
The relationships that LASPD officers build with the students extend far beyond even the wrestling sessions themselves. LASPD Sergeant Jess Arana describes the enduring connection that he and other officers make with the kids: “I’ve been involved with Beat the Streets since the beginning so I get to see kids grow up in the program – I’ve seen kids go through elementary and middle school and then enter high school, and I get to see the positive impact that we’ve made on their lives. Through this program, I’ve met their parents, their families, and become a mentor that they look up to. I get calls on the weekends from parents about how to deal with kids and I give them advice.” The officers don’t only mentor the kids, however – they’re touched by the kids in return. Officer Sean Workman says that “Kids coming to me smiling and with open arms is huge to me. These kids want to be taught by you; they want to be welcomed by your company.”
Since its inception, BTSLA has partnered with LASPD to teach students not only wrestling, but life skills through mentorship. Together, they work together to grow and develop confidence in themselves in a supportive environment. Roman Hernandez, Head Coach of the San Pedro program, says this about the partnership: “More than anything, Officer Workman and the LASPD give the San Pedro Beat the Streets Program an atmosphere of family.”
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